Belarus SIG Newsletter

Issue No. 1 - November 1998


This is the first issue of a new, online magazine conceived especially for subscribers to the Belarus sig. In the short period our discussion forum has been in existence a wide spectrum of interest has steadily emerged concerning the Jewish community which flourished in White Russia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of the common era. Our subscribers across the world have shown a fascination with the fate of their ancestors in the region, the circumstances in which they lived, their work, their demographic features, their patterns of migration. There is a current eagerness to trace roots, to establish connections, to find lost family branches and, if possible, to make contact with the living survivors of these branches. We intend and hope that our newsletter will assist in the structuring, and maybe occasionally the focusing, of the ongoing discussion and exchange of information within the forum.

Our Jewish, White Russian ancestors were characterised (as indeed were their coreligionists in other lands) by a spirit of pioneering and resilience in their land of adoption. We know they contributed greatly and in many ways to the culture and commerce of the region, in spite of their having to endure, very often, deprivations and humiliations on account of their "exotic" origins, appearance and customs. Then, in our own century, came the final deprivation and humiliation and the end of a complete way of life. Today we stand on the threshold of a new millennium of this common era we have shared with oft capricious neighbours. We now have a land which proudly bears our name; our culture, religion and customs have been completely reestablished. We are now respected and fully enfranchised among the nations in whose lands we choose to live. We also have, at our service, a new means of communication and dissemination. Perhaps the old pioneering spirit has just begun to resurface in this new, electronic diaspora, but, instead of sublimating itself in a ceaseless search for, and establishment of, a hospitable place of abode, it now devotes itself to repairing broken links in the chain of our history, to helping us to rediscover who we are and who we were. Hello and welcome.

Bryan Richard Polikoff

November 6, 1998

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